Anxiety Disorders and Their Effects Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a mental disorder that is mostly associated with traumatic events. When a person faces a life-threatening event to them or their loved one, they are likely to suffer from the disorder. PTSD is not a disorder that affects service members only, but it can affect anyone who experiences a traumatizing event like rape, assault, kidnapping, car accident, or torture. These events might occur directly to the person or to someone close to the person suffering from PTSD. The paper will analyze the disorder and provide some diagnosis and treatment methodologies currently in place. Based on research conducted by other scientists, one can see that there is need for further research in order to determine the effects of the various risks and resilience factors.

Introduction

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder a person will develop after been exposed to a traumatizing, horrific, or life-threatening situation (Stanley C. Krippner & Pitchford, 2012). PTSD is also a mental health condition triggered when a person experiences or witnesses a terrifying event. PTSD is not only related with combat fighters or military service men and women. The condition can affect any person in their everyday life. Whenever a person is in danger, they are naturally going to feel afraid, which causes their bodies to undergo split second changes. All this happens in order for the body to defend itself against the danger. Naturally, there are three distinct reactions to fear namely fight, flight, or freeze. These are all healthy reactions to a situation and a person will only experience one of them. In PTSD, this reaction is completely damaged or changed, which is why a person suffering from PTSD will still feel frightened or stressed when the danger has passed.

A majority of people who undergo a traumatic event will have difficulty coping and adjusting after the traumatizing event. However, this does not mean they have PTSD. Given good care and time, they can get better. A person is said to have PTSD if their symptoms last for months or they get worse, which interferes with their normal functioning. PTSD usually develops after a person has undergone a terrifying ordeal involving a threat of physical harm or caused physical harm. A person who develops PTSD does not necessarily have to be the one who harmed. They could develop PTSD after witnessing a harmful event happening to a loved one or a stranger. The person's loved one could also have been the one harmed. PTSD came to the limelight in relation to war veterans. The disorder can also afflict persons who undergo traumatic incidents like rape, kidnapping, mugging, child abuse, plane crashes, torture, accidents, train wrecks, or natural disasters.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms may appear within three months after a traumatic event, but there are times when the symptoms appear after many years. The symptoms of PTSD will lead to significant problems in the person's work or social environments. After a traumatizing event, it is natural for a person to experience these symptoms. Acute stress disorder (ASD) will occur when a person experiences serious symptoms that diminish after a few weeks, but when the symptoms continue for more than a few weeks, and they become a continuous problem then it most likely is PTSD. There are many symptoms caused by PTSD. The symptoms are grouped into three categories namely re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, and hyperarousal symptoms. Re-experiencing symptoms involves flashbacks to the traumatizing event repeatedly (Roberts, 2003). The person would also have physical symptoms like sweating or increase in their heart rate. Bad dreams are also associated with re-experiencing of the terrifying event. The person could also have frightening thoughts. These symptoms would interfere with the person's everyday routine. They can be triggered by the person's own feelings or thoughts. Situations, objects, or words that remind the person of the event can trigger re-experiencing.

Avoidance symptoms involve blocking out the traumatic event. The person would change their normal routine in order to avoid triggering the event. For example, a person who was involved in a plane crash would avoid boarding any aircraft. The avoidance symptoms involve feeling emotionally numb, avoiding places, objects, or events that will remind the person of the event, feeling depressed, guilty and worried. The person could also lose interest in activities they enjoyed previously. Hyperarousal symptoms make a person to be easily startled, feel tense, have difficulty sleeping, and have angry outbursts. These symptoms are not triggered by anything that reminds the person of their traumatic event, instead they are constant. Hyperarousal symptoms can make the person feel angry and stressed. The symptoms will make it hard for the person to perform their daily tasks like eating, concentrating, or sleeping.

Risk factors

PTSD can affect people of all ages and gender, but some factors will make some people vulnerable to it than others. PTSD affects 7.7 million Americans. From research, it has been indicated that compared to men, women are more likely to get PTSD. Evidence has demonstrated that susceptibility to the disorder runs in families. This means that if a family member develops PTSD, it is likely other members will develop it. According to Javidi and Yadollahie (2012) there is no limitation of who can get PTSD provided they have undergone a traumatizing event, or they have witnessed such an event. However, not everyone who suffers a traumatizing event will develop PTSD. There are people who will develop PTSD after a family member or friend is harmed or experiences danger. It has also been established that the sudden loss of loved one can trigger PTSD.

As earlier indicated not everyone who suffers a dangerous or traumatizing event will get PTSD. Many factors contribute to a person getting PTSD. Some are risk factors that make a person more susceptible to the disorder. Resilience factors are other factors that could assist a person in reducing the risk of the disorder. There are risk and resilience factors that are present before the traumatizing event and others will become important after and during the event. The risk factors for PTSD are getting hurt, seeing people get hurt or killed, lack of social support after the event, history of mental illness, feeling horror or helpless, and living through a dangerous event. Resilience factors that might assist in reducing the risk of PTSD are seeking out support from other people, finding a support group, being able to respond and act effectively despite feeling afraid, getting a coping strategy, and looking for a way to get through the event. Currently, researchers are studying the different risk and resilience factors to determine how they contribute towards the development of PTSD. With further research, it will be possible to predict in the near future people who are likely to suffer from PTSD.

Diagnosis

Not every person who undergoes a traumatized event will develop a minor or full-blown PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD will be visible from 3 months after the event, but they can start to demonstrate themselves even after years. For the symptoms to be termed PTSD, they must last more than a month. PTSD is diagnosed through a psychological evaluation. To understand the problem better, the care provider will request that the patient describe their symptoms and the event that triggered the symptoms. Some people will recover before 6 months, but others will have their symptoms lasting longer. There is also a possibility of the condition becoming chronic for some people. PTSD is difficult to diagnose because the person suffering from PTSD does not want to talk about the upsetting event. The person might also deny the symptoms they experience because they do not want others to think they are weak or mentally unstable.

An experienced doctor like a psychologist or psychiatrist is better placed to diagnose PTSD. The diagnosis is done after the doctor speaks with the patient demonstrating PSTD symptoms. A person will have the following symptoms for at least one month if the suffer from PTSD three avoidance symptoms, one re-experience symptom, and two hyperarousal symptoms. These symptoms would make the person unable to perform their daily activities, attend school, or work, socialize with friends, and taking care of their vital tasks. People suffering from PTSD are prone to depression, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse (Andreasen, 2011). To diagnose PTSD properly, the patient should be exposed to an event that involved serious injury or threat of death. This exposure would allow the psychiatrist to understand the triggers and formulate the correct treatment method. There are people who will have traumatic dreams related to the event. The dreams are an indication that the person has developed PTSD. Many times the person is unable to sleep, as they fear their dreams.

Treatment

Treatment for PTSD would allow the person to regain their sense of control in their daily life. The main forms of treatments for PTSD are psychotherapy, medications or both. Psychotherapy is the primary method of treatment, but medication could be included depending on the level…

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